For many people, fitness is not about attempting to sculpt a chiselled six-pack or being able to run a marathon in under three hours. It’s simply about staying in good nick. Being able to say, without crossing your fingers, that you are a reasonably healthy adult.
However, it can be hard to quantify exactly what that means, especially as what constitutes “good nick” changes for people of different ages.
Fortunately, sport physiotherapist Tim Wright has devised a series of three tests that people in each age group from their 20s to their 70s should be able to do if they are in good physical condition.
You need to be able to tick all three boxes to pass the test, as the trio of components are designed to test different aspects of fitness – cardiovascular fitness, strength and mobility.
If you find you need to work on your fitness, a great place to start is our 30-day challenges that will improve your strength and overall fitness. Just keep scrolling and pick your poison – we recommend the burpee challenge which works for everyone because it takes your current fitness level as its starting point.
In Your 20s
In Your 30s
- Run a mile (1.6km) in less than nine minutes
- Hold a classic plank for 45 seconds
- Deadlift more than 50% of your bodyweight
In Your 40s
- Sprint for 60 seconds without stopping
- Do ten press-ups without stopping
- Touch your toes comfortably while keeping your legs straight
In Your 50s
- Run at a moderate pace for 60 seconds without stopping
- Do five burpees without stopping
- Lower yourself into a cross-legged sitting position on the floor without using your hands and then return to standing
In Your 60s
- Regularly take more than 10,000 steps a day
- Perform 12 bodyweight squats without stopping
- Touch your fingertips together with one hand over your shoulder and the other behind your back
In Your 70s
- Walk a mile in less than 16 minutes
- Climb a flight of stairs with 10 steps in under 30 seconds comfortably
- Rise to stand from a chair without using hands or arms and repeat 12+ times in 30 seconds
30-Day Fitness Challenges
Each of these month-long fitness regimes focuses on a specific exercise, making you a master of that move while increasing your strength and mobility.
Start off with the all-in-one fitness classic – the burpee. This hellishly effective exercise strengthens muscles all over the body while also improving your cardiovascular endurance. There’s no set number to achieve in the 30 days – you will instead work to improve your max burpee total in two minutes. This makes it the perfect starting point because it scales the plan to your current level.
This 30-day challenge is all about your core strength, with participants starting with a 60-second plank on day one and aiming to progress to a three-minute plank by day 30. In between those two points you’ll also be doing other exercises like superman and plank up-downs so that you finish the month with a core of steel.
Completing 100 press-ups in one go is a brutal test of upper-body strength and this ranks as perhaps the toughest of our 30-day challenges. You start with 20 press-ups on day one, and the reps quickly pile up as you add variations to build the power required to hit 100 on day 30.
The unweighted squat is a superb exercise that builds strength in your entire lower body and core. There are no variations on the squat theme in this 30-day challenge, just a steady rise in reps from 50 on day one to 250 on day 30.
While our other 30-day challenges focus on one exercise and its variations, the abs challenge focuses on one part of the body. If you’re looking to sculpt a ripped set of abs, this is the one for you, and you’ll also gain the even greater benefit of a really strong core.
The plan involves doing six workouts a week for four weeks. All the workouts are pretty short and use only bodyweight moves, so you don’t need any equipment. Five of the weekly workouts involve doing abs exercises for a certain period of time, increasing the time you spend doing each move throughout the week. There’s also one HIIT workout each week. The timer resets at the start of every week, when an extra exercise is added to each of the five abs workouts.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.